fawatson (fawatson) wrote in my_friend_jane,

And so to Mother

Elizabeth Sandison’s presence looms large in the My Friends books, yet she herself does not appear in many of them because of her death when Janet is age 10. She is mentioned sometimes, referring to the past, in other books, but she herself only appears when substantial portion of the book is set during Janet’s early childhood. What picture do we receive about her?

In My Friend Flora we see her scolding Janet. We are told this is a rare occurrence: “for my mother was very quiet and gentle and knew well that when she said: ‘Oh, Janet, why did you do a thing like that?’ and looked at me sadly out of her big soft eyes, it had far more effect on me than all my grandmother’s wrath.”

In the Miss Boyds she stops Janet making fun of the Miss Boyds.

Janet wishes she could be more like her mother but admits she grows up ‘thrawn’ like her Grannie.

It is her mother who is fiercely determined Janet should have just as many chances to get a good education as any boy. We learn she might well have gone to university herself except for a couple of unfortunate events (and her generation). She came to Poyntdale as a governess and met Duncan Sandison there.

Janet bears her mother's name as her second name; Betsy the horse is named for her.

She has delicate health, and dies shortly after Janet’s brother is born.

In My Friend Annie we are told: “I had my tenth birthday, my brother was born the next day and, two days later, I came downstairs, dressed, ready to go to school, to find all my family in the big kitchen, dressed not for work but as if it were Sunday, and all looking strangely afraid. As I came into the room, all of them except my father turned away from me and he looked down at me and said: ‘Janet, you have to be a brave bairn. Mother died during the night! Having said the dreadful words, he put his hand on my head for a moment and then walked past me, out into the hard, windy sunshine of March.

Have you any favourite passages about Janet’s mother?

What do you think of the contrasts between Janet’s mother and the mother in the Jean books?

How is it that Jane Duncan paints such a vivid picture of this woman when she actually appears in relatively few scenes in the series? We see a LOT more of George and Tom than we ever do of Elizabeth Sandison. She never has a book named for her. Yet she is a major character! What skills does the Author use to impress us with this character’s importance?
Tags: discussion: friends
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